Mess With The Bull…
A person should not have to escalate to levels demonstrated by the movie John Q to get the medical care neccesary. And a pen pushing insurance company should have no say in what options are given to you as far as your care and diagnosis. The only people that should be making that decision are the doctor, his staff, and the patient. That is right, I said the patient. If an automechanic handed you a bill for $1500 would you just pay it and trudge off? Hell no! You would want to know what was causing the interior door light to stay on and why it would cost that much. There are people who spend more time deciding on a menu item for a night out, than knowing what or why something is happening that they are in an emergency room.
Twenty-four years ago, I blindly went with whatever my oncologist (cancer doctor) wanted, no questions. He told me time was too important and under the stress I was under from my potential and eventual diagnosis, I was not capable of making any kind of responsible decision anyway. In no way do I regret the fact that I am standing here today with my family, but I also cannot ignore the things that have occurred to me, because of those decisions made for me decades ago. And so, nearly five years ago, I made the decision, following my heart surgery, I was going to be a part of my treatment team. I need as much information as they get, and guess what, as the patient, I am entitled to that information. It is my life.
It is now day four of my recovery from my second go with pneumonia. Oddly enough, I ended up with the same doctor who treated me the first time. And just as the first time, the nurses and support staff were the only reason I did not reach out and strangle this doctor, because he just would not listen. He did not care. He had other patients to get out of the way. I was supposed to only listen to him give his diagnosis, treatment plan, prognosis, and that was all he had planned to give. After all, he was important, not a piece of filet pink on the inside, seared ever so gently on the outisde cut the perfect thickness displayed every so properly. In spite of my health history, knowing anything about my vocation, personal life, it was just “take this and get better”.
My greatest fear followed my first experience with pneumonia, I would have to deal with it again. And this past Monday early morning, I did. So three days have gone by, six rounds of antibiotics fed through my veins and the same doctor I dealt with has come in to tell me that the current xray “shows no improvement” and that I will probably go home the next day. Again, I will use the car repair reference. You take your car in to have a flat tire taken care of, and all the mechanic does is stick a plug in it, and does not seal it. By the time you get out of the station’s driveway, the tire is flat already, and chances are you will be pissed! If you would not tolerate that with a garage mechanic and your car, why would you tolerate it with your doctor and your life? I have some of the greatest support here in my life, and in the hospital here. Several of my nurses, and even the supervisor of food services who happened to be filling in for an absent employee stepped up as an advocate for me last night and this morning either by encouragement or even willing to complain for me. This was perhaps the kindest gesture I have ever seen.
I was clearly bothered by what I felt was a hasty and insufficiently informed decision. The nurses listened to my concerns, the food service supervisor was in the room and overheard, and went higher up in the hospital management. She came back and told me that all I had to do was say the word, and this “higher up” would intercede on my behalf. Admittedly, I am not a fan of this hospital as it does not have the greatest reputation, and even under new ownership/management certain figures in this hospital do nothing to change this perception.
This morning, I the doctor came in, hands in his pocket, and started with “so I hear you have concerns about being released”. As I rattled them off, one by one on a couple of occasions, I caught him slowly inching towards the door. And of course I let him know that I felt that and informed him that I still had questions, where was he going?
* why couldn’t he determine the cause of the bacteria (last time or this time)?
* how can I be released when results are showing I haven’t gotten better?
* does he not realize the health issues I face from my cancer treatment late effects?
* why weren’t the precautions followed from last time, when clearly informed and he had the records of my prior infection and treatment?
* does he understand what I do for a living and how it impacts my recovery before just sending me back to work?
* why haven’t I been getting any respiratory therapy?
* why does he refuse to communicate with the specialists that I deal with, especially in regards to immunity and pulmonary issues?
There were a few more, but I got my point across. Do not get me wrong. I was going to drive myself bat-shit crazy if I got released today or a month from now with so many uncertainties. After he left, the nurse offered me a hug and asked if the meeting provided any comfort or ease, which I told her it did. And I had the same food rep today and made sure she got a big hug from me too.
I found out what it was like to deal with pneumonia last March. I also found out what it was like to recover from it. Now I know what it is like to deal with double pneumonia. To give you an idea, a Philadelphia Eagles football player has come down with pneumonia and will evidently miss the final three games while recovering. Guess what, the Eagles plan on not paying him as a non-football injury. So he will miss his paycheck for three weeks. That is a lot of money, but obviously, his doctors know how long it will take to recover from pneumonia.
Thank you everyone here who emailed me with encouragement and support. This will probably not be my last visit here and the doctor will probably insist on drawing straws for my care next time. But it shouldn’t be this difficult to get the care we deserve need, no matter if we have a healthy history or not, no matter if you have the voice to speak up or not.